What's Cool In Road Cycling

Mapei Leaves Cycling

– Reported by Gazzetta dello Sport –

“Afer 10 years we are tired and disenchanted – explains the team’s administrator, Sassi – Too many problems, and the changes are slow”.

MILAN, 25 June 2002 – After 10 years and 631 victories up to today, the Mapei team of Giorgio Squinzi is leaving cycling. Leaving as rich and powerful squad, from ’94 the worlds number one team, not only from their results, but organization as well, for which they have been admired and envied by many. Leaving, expained by the patron in an official press release, because “in sport one is finally catching a glimpse of the signs of change, signs needed to re-give to the sport of cycling the credibility that its popularity and history merits it: but among these signals there is too much weakness, progress is much to slow, in respect to the gravity of the situation, not enough to warrant a commitment like ours. I will not hide the fact that we are leaving this sport with many satisfactions, but also with the bitterness of having been too many times misunderstood and not for those who opposed the new model that we have proposed, in both the organization and management of the team, and in regard to the fight against doping”.

“We have become disillusioned with the institution – Aldo Sassi explained to Gazzetta.it – for contingent facts like the case of Garzelli, excluded from the Giro for an event that, we believe, continues to have too many obscure sides to it, and for motives that we could define as historical and political together: our battle against doping, the strategies that we have thought of and implemented to stop the use of illicit substances, has had scarsely any acceptance and have echoed in the palace. We feel isolated, ignored, in some cases even opposed by the entire environment, also in these times there are too many teams that are behind. Squinzi’s decision was not improvisational, it has been matured over time”. They will close their battles at the end of this season, when the 40 riders of the entire squad – 27 of the first squad and 13 of the development team – will have to find new squads. “About half of our riders have one or more years left on their contracts with us – explains Sassi – Bettini and Steels are the names most important; Freire, Nardello, Tafi, and Zanini are finishing their contracts, Garzelli, for the diuretic that has forced him to retire from the Giro, is in a particular situation”.

Why was this announcement made now? “Mostly to give all of our riders and staff enough time to find new posts – responds Sassi – It’s logical that we risk comprimising the spirit in which the team will face the rest of the season, but we are confident in the professionality of our riders already demonstrated in the Giro, when, after the Garzelli case, we could have quit, but instead continued to fight and almost won the Giro with Evans”. He’s invested millions, Squinzi, in his ten year adventure, not only to make the strongest team, capable of celebrating among others the triples at Paris-Roubaix (’96, ’98, ’99), Flanders with Tafi, Liege-Bastogne-Liege with Bettini, the Giro in ’95 with Tony Rominger, but not San Remo or the Tour. He’s also spent much to construct a medical-sport center to assist it’s riders.

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